Universities after neoliberalism

We’re used to one-way neoliberalism, regardless of party, in which we keep getting more of its familiar features: public budget austerity, marketisation, privatisation, selective cross-subsidies favouring business and technology, precarisation of professional labour, and structural racism. But under the pressure of international social forces, neoliberalism is increasingly breaking down. These forces include the Covid-19-induced public […]

On the subject of roots

In 1983, Toni Morrison’s classic interview-turned-essay ‘Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation’ was published in Mari Evans’s anthology Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation. 1 In the piece, Morrison concerns herself with the figure of the ancestor in African American literature. For her, the ancestor is a ‘distinctive element of African American writing’, and because […]

Who will survive the university?

We write as organisers of #CoronaContract, a campaign we co-founded shortly after the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, demanding a two-year contract extension for all casualised university staff (academic and non-academic). In the early days of COVID-19, when previously unthinkable forms of economic rescue took place, this demand functioned as a ‘transitional demand’ […]

Authoritarian and neoliberal attacks on higher education in Hungary

In April 2017, a law adopted by the Hungarian authorities, and promptly nicknamed ‘Lex CEU’, made the operation of the Central European University (CEU) impossible. The CEU is an English language graduate university with accreditation both in Hungary and in the USA, which was based in Budapest from 1991. Following a long process of attempted […]

Dramatic differences

Exchange: Marx’s theatre of economic categories It is a privilege to read Asad Haider’s critical response to my article, ‘The Theatre of Economic Categories: Rediscovering Capital in the late 1960s’ in Radical Philosophy 2.08). 1 His enthusiastic defence of Althusser’s theoretical innovation allows one to witness the impact of Reading Capital on a disciple who […]

Wounds of Democracy

Scholars of European history and critical theory observing American politics in recent years have often found themselves experiencing déjà vu. History, the truism goes, does not repeat itself, but last summer, with calls for ‘law and order’ and armed right-wing militias clashing with anti-racist protestors across America, many asked, what more are you waiting for? […]

Against ‘Effective Altruism’

Effective Altruism (EA) is a programme for rationalising charitable giving, positioning individuals to do the ‘most good’ per expenditure of money or time. It was first formulated – by two Oxford philosophers just over a decade ago – as an application of the moral theory consequentialism, and from the outset one of its distinctions within […]

Counter-violence, a ‘Hegelian’ myth

Beyond a doubt Hegel knew about real slaves and their revolutionary struggles. In perhaps the most political expression of his career, he used the sensational events of Haiti as the linchpin in his argument in The Phenomenology of Spirit. The actual and successful revolution of Caribbean slaves against their masters is the moment when the […]

A liberal poetics of policy

In The Evolution of Educational Thought (1938), Emile Durkheim recounted the historical irony that undergirds the idea of institutionality – by pitting it against the birth of the university in medieval Europe. He noted how the coming into being of a corporative organisation – the universitas – was effectively an attempt at ‘unionising’ the body […]

Precarious euphoria

Tina Managhan, Unknowing the ‘War on Terror’: The Pleasures of Risk (London: Routledge, 2020). 132pp., £120.00 hb., 978 1 35104 860 6 It is a wild adventure we are on. Here, as we are rushing along through the darkness, with the cold from the river seeming to rise up and strike us; with all the […]

Contingent contagions

Angela Mitropoulos, Pandemonium: Proliferating Borders of Capital and the Pandemic Swerve (London: Pluto Press, 2020). 132pp., £14.99 pb., 978 0 74534 330 3 ‘When every home becomes a quarantine zone, and every epidemiological map is mistaken for an accurate representation of molecular spread, the convergence of neoliberalism and fascism around an oikonomic understanding of health […]

Troubled pleasures

Kate Soper, Post Growth Living: For an Alternative Hedonism (London: Verso, 2020). 240pp., £16.99 hb., 978 1 78873 887 3 Kate Soper has made some vitally important contributions to ecosocialist and feminist political theory over the last four decades and more. Her interventions around ‘troubled pleasures’, humanism and its discontents, realism/constructionism, and more, have often […]